The Hayward Field tower helps tell the story of the first 100 years of Oregon Track and Field
February 3, 2020
The Hayward Field renovation project took an exciting step Feb. 1 when crews installed the crown of the 187-foot tall tower. The landmark structure, at the northeast corner of the facility, pays tribute to the University of Oregon legacy with graphics depicting five Oregon track and field icons.
“The tower is a landmark for the university,” Nike creative director Todd Van Horne said. “It is iconic and heroic. When you see a glimpse of the stadium, you’ll know by the silhouette of that tower, this is Hayward Field, home of Oregon track and field.”
The crown, which rests on the top of the tower, weighs 33 tons and has a diameter of more than 41 feet. Over the coming weeks, crews will mount two-foot by eight-foot perforated steel panels on the outside of the tower. Together, the panels depict images of five icons who have helped define the UO’s legacy. The first of the five is already on display, with the crown of the tower featuring the iconic image of legendary innovator and UO head coach Bill Bowerman and an unnamed athlete.
As crews install additional panels over coming weeks, images of four more UO greats, Steve Prefontaine, Raevyn Rogers, Ashton Eaton and Otis Davis, will join the likeness of Bowerman, bringing the total of UO legends featured on the tower to five.
“The tower is an incredible showcase of our program’s history,” head coach Robert Johnson said. “It’s something fans, the community and our student-athletes can be proud of. It’s an honor to be part of the impact these individuals have made to our sport and Oregon track and field."
Bowerman served as the UO head coach (1948-72), won four NCAA team titles; and was co-founder of Nike. Prefontaine was a seven-time NCAA champion and broke 14 American records during his career. Rogers is a six-time NCAA champion and the 2017 winner of The Bowerman award, the highest honor bestowed to collegiate track and field’s most outstanding athletes of the year. Eaton is a five-time NCAA champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist; and 2010 winner of The Bowerman. Davis is a two-time 1960 Olympics gold medalist, winning the 400 meters and anchoring the 4x400-meter relay with world records in both events.
The new facility will feature additional tributes to many athletes and special moments, as well.
“Oregon track and field is so rich in its history,” Van Horne said. “The tower is part of the design language to honor the athletes and coaches of Oregon track and field. We are putting the many faces and moments of Hayward Field throughout the stadium. Our goal is to honor the past and inspire the future.”
The 10-story-tall landmark will align with the east stands and feature a lobby filled with interpretive exhibits, an observation deck and viewing areas. The observation deck is located on the level just under the crown, which features Bowerman and the unnamed athlete. The tower will also include office space for the UO track and field coaching staff.
A Legacy of Excellence
Standing 10 stories and 187 feet tall, the Tower at Hayward Field depicts images of five icons who have helped define the UO’s legacy. This impressive collection of track and field greats includes 22 NCAA Championships, four Olympic Gold medals, and two Bowerman Award recipients. We invite the UO community to take pictures of the tower images as they emerge and share their fondest memories on social media using the hashtag #UOHayward.
Five UO track and field icons have been selected to grace panels on the tower at Hayward Field, honoring UO greats and inspiring the next generation of university excellence. The new facility will pay tribute to many more athletes and special moments and throughout the stadium, as well.
Years coached: 1948-1972
Championships won: 4 NCAA Championships, 38 Conference Championships
Hometown: Fossil, Oregon
Bill Bowerman was a man of many titles: Olympic head coach, Nike founder, U.S. Army major, Oregon track and field head coach, inventor — the list could go on and on. The recurring theme was his restless innovation and unchecked passion for sport.
Bowerman (born Feb. 19, 1911) graduated from the University of Oregon in 1935 and began his coaching career in football, spending one year at Franklin High School in Portland. He then moved back to the city where he attended high school, Medford, coaching track for nine years and football for seven years.
In 1948, the former UO football and track letter winner returned to Eugene, and soon after he took over as head coach of the track and field program. Bowerman’s ‘Men of Oregon’ won 24 NCAA individual titles (with wins in 15 of the 19 events contested) and four NCAA team crowns (1962-64-65-70), and posted 16 top-10 NCAA finishes in his 24 years as head coach. His teams also boasted 33 Olympians, 38 conference champions and 64 All-Americans. At the dual level, the Ducks posted a 114-20 record and went undefeated in 10 seasons. At the Olympic level, he served as head coach of the U.S. team in 1972 and an assistant coach in 1968.
In a show of his lasting legacy, The Bowerman was established ahead of the 2008-09 season and has since been awarded each season to the most outstanding male and female NCAA track and field athletes in the country. Five Ducks have won The Bowerman, a list of UO greats that include Galen Rupp (2009), Ashton Eaton (2010), Laura Roesler (2014), Jenna Prandini (2015) and Raevyn Rogers (2017).
As an inventor, Bowerman was equally renowned for his waffle-iron shoe soles that remain popular today, as well as his method of recycling old athletic shoes into surfacing for tracks. Bowerman co-founded Nike, with Phil Knight, BBA ‘59. Bowerman served as Knight’s coach, teacher, mentor, business partner, and teammate in a never-ending pursuit of excellence.
Bowerman helped shaped track and field and running in general for generations of athletes. He helped launch the U.S. running boom. After a 1962 trip to New Zealand, he introduced the idea of jogging to the masses, and even assigned his Duck athletes as mentors and coaches to local citizens. His 1967 book “Jogging” sold more than a million copies.
Bowerman’s legacy as an outspoken leader was also forged off the track. He enlisted in the Army soon after the United States entered World War II, and was a combat major of the 10th Mountain Division in the Italian Alps, earning a Silver Star and four Bronze Stars. He later ran for state representative, following the lead of his father, Jay, who served as interim governor in 1910.
In retirement, Bowerman stayed true to his roots. The Fossil, Ore., native resided in his Eugene home in the Coburg Hills, and stayed in the news with occasional advice on how to keep the sport vibrant. When nominated for the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1981, he declined, stating that until Bill Hayward was elected, Bowerman himself didn’t deserve to be included.
Before passing away on Christmas Eve 1999, Bowerman returned to Fossil, the eastern Oregon town his great grandfather founded in 1867, to close the last chapter of a legacy that will never be matched.
Years competed: 1970-1973
Major: Broadcast Communications, UO '74
Hometown: Coos Bay, Oregon
Arguably Oregon's greatest sports legend, no former Duck athlete captured the hearts of a nation as the brash, charismatic native son.
Steve Prefontaine’s quest after Olympic glory fueled the American running craze in the mid-1970s, and even though he was tragically killed in a car crash at the age of 24, he still claimed seven NCAA titles, a fourth-place Olympic finish in 1972 (5K), and American records from 2,000 meters through 10,000 meters.
He owned every (8) American record between 2,000 and 10,000 meters and between two miles and six miles. He also held eight collegiate records while at Oregon, with his three-mile (12:53.4) and six-mile (27:09.4) still standing. During his career, he broke his own or other American records 14 different times, broke the four-minute barrier nine times, ran 25 two-mile races under 8:40 and 10 5K races faster than 13:30.
Pre raced at Hayward Field in 38 races between 1970-75, losing only three times, all at one mile.
Over the next few weeks, stay tuned for a detailed story about Pre's legacy as the UO icon's image emerges on the tower.
Years competed: 2015-2017
Major: Art, UO '19
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Raevyn Rogers won the silver-medal in the 800m at the 2019 World Championships and expects to compete for her first Olympic berth at the Olympic Trials at Hayward Field in June.
A six-time NCAA champion, three-time Pac-12 champion and eight-time all-American in three seasons with the Ducks, Rogers put together a stellar junior season in 2017 before electing to join the professional ranks. She won the NCAA 800 meter title both indoors and outdoors, giving her five straight NCAA titles at that distance and making her the first person in NCAA history to win three straight NCAA outdoor championships in the 800.
Despite her dominance in the 800 meters, Rogers' career will likely be remembered most for her final leg of the 4x400 relay at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Needing first place in the relay to win the team outdoor title and complete the first Triple Crown in NCAA women's D-I history, Rogers ran a blistering 49.77 final lap, the sixth-fastest split in meet history, to edge out USC's Kendall Williams and secure the historic victory.
In addition to clutch victories, Rogers also played a major role in rewriting the collegiate record books during her final season at Oregon. Rogers broke the 27-year-old collegiate record in the 800 meters at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 15, winning in 1:59.10 to best Suzy Favor's mark that stood since 1990. She helped break a 13-year-old collegiate record in the 4x400 with her historic final leg, leading the Ducks to a blazing 3:23.13 finish. She also helped the Ducks break collegiate records in the indoor distance-medley relay and the outdoor sprint-medley relay.
Rogers was also the USTFCCCA women's outdoor track athlete of the year for 2017.
As a Duck, she won three NCAA outdoor crowns, 2015–17 before turning pro.
In 2017, she won The Bowerman award, as the nation’s top collegiate women's track and field athlete.
Over the next few weeks, stay tuned for a detailed story about Raevyn's legacy as the UO icon's image emerges on the tower.
Years competed: 2007-2010
Major: Psychology, UO '10
Hometown: Bend, Oregon
The two-Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon Ashton Eaton is also a five-time NCAA champion and winner of The Bowerman award in 2010.
At points in his career, he held the world record for the decathlon, setting the record for the decathlon at the 2012 Olympic Trials at Hayward Field. During his career, he owned world records in the heptathlon and the decathlon.
Over the next few weeks, stay tuned for a detailed story about Ashton's legacy as the UO icon's image emerges on the tower.
Years competed: 1958-1960
Major: Physical Education, UO '60
Hometown: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
An athlete who starred in basketball at Oregon went on to bring his alma mater glory as a track athlete. Otis Davis began running at the age of 26 and ended his brilliant career three years later with a life full of memories. He captured the first of two national 400-meter titles a year after starting to compete and then was one of America’s stars in the 1960 Olympics in Rome.
He won the Olympic gold medal with a world record of 44.9 seconds and also ran the anchor on the U.S. gold medal-winning 4x400-meter relay team that also established a world mark. He was the first Oregon athlete to win the coveted gold medal, albeit two years after graduation. He then began a career coaching and teaching in the U.S. and Germany after retirement from running.
Over the next few weeks, stay tuned for a detailed story about Otis' legacy as the UO icon's image emerges on the tower.